Current ministry: consultant

Years in the Congregation: 54

Contact Sister Cathy at: cathybsp@verizon.net

Q. What do you like most about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? A. The peace, quiet and the serenity of this holy ground.

Q. When I am not officially at work or involved in my ministry, you’re most likely to see me…  A. Enjoying myself.

Q. On weekends, I love to… A. Play and pray. I’m rather active in my parish on the weekends.

Q. I’m passionate about… A. Cleanliness and order.

Q. Name one thing most people don’t know about you. A. Probably very little. I’m sort of an open book. If I have something on my mind, they know it.

Q. Why did you choose to become a Sister of Providence?

A. I chose to become a Sister of Providence to serve God’s people. It was out of love and appreciation for the example given to me from grade school through high school and the first year in college by the sisters that I grew to love. I was attracted to their lifestyle. They could help so many people in so many different ways. I went to first grade in the Chicago area, Rogers Park, and it was the Benedictine sisters. In January my family moved to Wilmette, Illinois, and I was introduced to the Sisters of Providence. Sister Alice Marie was my first-grade teacher. I was in her class and I really had not a clue as to what they were doing. At the end of the year, she invited my parents over to the convent and she said, “I know you have a lovely daughter and I know she is very bright, but I think it would be wise if we held her back a year because she has not grasped phonics and that’s going to be a mainstay for the rest of her life. So, I wonder how you feel about that.” My parents said, “If that’s what you recommend, that’s what we’ll do.” I thought, “That’s great, I’ll meet new kids.” It didn’t bother me. I am probably the only Sister of Providence who flunked first grade. I tell everybody that story. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I made lifetime friends in that class. I thought then, “These people are so wonderful, sensitive and positive.” They were pretty neat. Toward the end of my junior year in high school, one of the sisters approached me and said, “Did you ever think about looking into being a Sister of Providence?” And I said, “Oh, that wouldn’t be any problem. I already think God wants me there anyway.”

Q. Why would a woman today choose to be a Sister of Providence? What would be attractive to her?

A. In my personal opinion, I think it would be a very difficult and a personal challenge from the perspective that it is a whole different cultural environment. I know everyone knows that. She would have to be a person who is attracted to religious life, who has a deep love for God, an appreciation for and a deeply rooted faith because we see it in our own community. Those of us who entered a number of years ago come from a whole different place. We were never exposed to what women today are exposed to. It wasn’t a major choice for many of us. It was almost a given once you decided you wanted to do it and you knew it would be forever. People don’t look at things like that today. I think one of the things that has impressed me the most in recent years is the Providence Associate relationship opportunity. I have three women with whom I companion from Florida. I have been blown away with how their lives have been transformed by even doing the candidate year.

Q. What opportunities are here for women today?

A. There is opportunity for growth in your spiritual life, your professional life and your social life. You get exposure to keeping yourself updated and in touch with the real world. You can be spiritually and intellectually challenged all the time. Once people get to know us, they understand we have a serious lifestyle, but in a very pleasant way that gives you a lot of peace of heart. But, it isn’t always easy. You work through it.

Q. What role does prayer have in your life today?

A. Primary. I get up at 3:30 or 4 every morning so I can get myself ready for the day and have at least an hour and a half to pray. In my present job, I go to daily Mass. I treasure it because for years I couldn’t go because of my jobs. For six and a half years, I worked at the Diocese of Venice in the real estate department and I had to be at the office at 7:30. I didn’t get to go to church even though I was working for the Catholic Church. But that’s OK. My morning prayer often turned into night prayer which I often slept through. I am very grateful that I’m on a reverse schedule. If I didn’t have my faith, I wouldn’t have anything. If I didn’t have my prayer time, I couldn’t do what I do.

Q. How much influence does Saint Mother Theodore Guerin have in your life?

A. Tremendous. First thing I learned about Mother Theodore was her saying that “after prayer and mortification, first comes common sense.” I truly believe that. She has been a guiding light in my life since I entered the community. I was very excited and very much involved in her beatification and canonization. She has influenced a great deal what I do currently with the poor and the elderly because she was so focused on the needs of both groups.

Q. Has your life turned out like you might have imagined?

A. Much better. If I had planned it, it would never have happened. That’s the beauty of it. God has a plan for me and that is all I need to know. God has blessed me in so many ways with each opportunity that has come to me. Everywhere I work and everywhere I go, they know I am a Sister of Providence and they know my two tag lines: “Jesus never fails” and “God has a plan.”

Favorites

Food: Chicken and beef tenderloin.

TV show: Classic movies.

Recreation: Swimming, visiting with friends.

Hobby: Cooking.

Flowers and plants: Roses and geraniums.

Sport: College and NFL football.

Music/song: Classical/Let there be Peace on Earth.

Pizza topping: Supreme.

Holiday: Christmas.

Author: Joan Chittister, OSB.

Scripture passage: Let it be done to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

Dessert: Chocolate anything.

Time of day: Early morning.

Season: Spring, new life.

Actor/actress: Kathryn Hepburn.

Saint: Mother Theodore Guerin

Least favorite food: Any food with garlic.

Least favorite course in school: Education.